RGS-IBG Annual International Conference

RGS-IBG 2019 Annual International Conference:  Call for papers to HERG Sponsored sessions

All sessions with calls for papers:
– Designing the geography curriculum for challenging times
– Embedding sustainability into Higher Education curricula: Geography and beyond
– From Online Teaching Platforms to Robot Teachers: Technology-Enabled Approaches to Teaching and their Impacts 
– Pedagogic partnerships in higher education: encountering emotion and enhancing wellbeing
– Transnational Student Migration: from the perspective of lifecourse and everyday geographies


Designing the geography curriculum for challenging times

Joanne Maddern & Kevin Rees (Swansea University) – j.f.maddern@swansea.ac.uk

These sessions seek to generate debate, discussion and forward momentum in thinking through the pedagogical implications of the highly complex local, national and global networks geography curricula are situated in and develop through. Navigation of drivers as diverse as ‘student satisfaction’, TEF, REF, intuitional learning and teaching strategies, accreditation, recruitment, student fees and ‘value for money’, employability, inclusivity and the complexity of ‘grand challenges’ facing us globally can be tumultuous. What we teach and the methods through which we deliver that teaching and associated assessments have never been so analysed, scrutinised, theorised, but also so crucial to solving, or at least addressing pressing social, political and environmental challenges from climate change to global mass migration. We invite papers that attend to these themes, and narrate, document, lament, celebrate, critique and theorise the journeys of curriculum design and re-design in the geographical and associated disciplines. Papers are welcomed in (but not limited to): the following themes:

  • Whose degree? Using inclusive, action research or participatory approaches to curriculum design;
  • Embedding employability or generating an entrepreneurial mind-set: what (and whom) is a degree for;
  • Using metrics to (re)design curricula: challenges, ethics and effectiveness;
  • Reflective practice as a tool for curriculum redesign: questions of validity and rigour;
  • Retaining relevance in the changing local, national and global landscape;
  • Designing for ‘recruitment’ during a demographic dip: dumbing down or growing up?;
  • The marketization of the curricular: resistance, resilience or recalcitrance;
  • The emergence of 2 year degrees: travesty or opportunity?;
  • Actor-network relationships between institutional strategies and geographical curricula;
  • Innovations in inclusivity, inclusive assessment, inclusive teaching and the inclusive curriculum;
  • Integrated programme assessment and programme level design to overcome ‘death by modularisation’;
  • Allowing learning to thrive: creating curricular ‘spaces of exception’ away from the neo-liberal University or allowing ‘business’ into the curriculum?;
  • (Re) designing curricular after Brext, Trump etc…;
  • (Re) designing curricula to attend to global challenges;
  • Pedagogies of emancipation and liberation;
  • Cross-disciplinary curriculum design: managing porous boundaries;.
  • Radical, militant or alternative curricular: managing spaces of alterity and otherness in learning;
  • Outcome-based curricular versus emergent learning;
  • Mapping student learning journeys, student assessments, staff workloads or other kinds of curriculum ‘mappings;’
  • Accreditation and the curriculum: opportunities and challenges;
  • Monitoring and evaluating ‘change’ during curriculum development;
  • Flexibility and ‘student choice’ versus a pre-defined pathways: what’s best?;
  • Learning ‘labyrinths’, learning ‘ladders’ and other visual metaphors informing the design process.
  • ‘Mindful’ and meditative curriculum design: creating space for learning.

Please email paper abstracts to j.f.maddern@swansea.ac.uk. Deadline: 12th Feb 2019.


Embedding sustainability into Higher Education curricula: Geography and beyond

Jane Fisher (University of Chester and Centre for Alternative Technology) jane.fisher@chester.ac.uk

The call for sustainability be a part of teaching at Higher Education is becoming louder. That voice has come from international bodies such as the United Nations, national bodies such as HEFCE and from our students, 85% of which think that it is something Universities should “actively incorporate and promote”.

Geography has traditionally been seen as the home of sustainability teaching, with its multifaceted approach to examining social, economic, political, environmental and physical issues at local and global scales. As geographers we are in a unique position to tackle the subject of sustainability. Sustainability is the very definition of a ‘wicked’ problem, a research area aligned to the RCUK Global Challenge and NERC priority research areas. It poses pedagogic issues in how to approach the teaching of such a multidiscipline subject within a modulated HE system, of how to encourage students to think critically and widely beyond their immediate subject interests, of how to deal with uncertainly and conflicting views. It also poses the opportunity to equip students with skills to tackle an uncertain future, both in their professional and personal lives.

How do we as Geographer rise to these challenges? How do we embrace sustainability? What are the barriers to embedding sustainability teaching and learning? This session invites talks on approaches to teaching and learning about sustainability, about sustainability considerations within the pursuit of Geographical teaching and case-studies of good practice.

Please email paper abstracts to jane.fisher@chester.ac.uk. Deadline: 12th Feb 2019.


From Online Teaching Platforms to Robot Teachers: Technology-Enabled Approaches to Teaching and their Impacts 

Emma Gardner & John Bryson (University of Birmingham) – E.C.Gardner@bham.ac.uk

The use of some technology in the practical delivery of teaching is well established while other technology-based options for educators are rather more novel and present new possibilities and challenges for engaging with students. Lecture-capture software is one such innovation which attracts polarising views, although less intrusive technological-innovations such as polling software allow for increased interactivity, even where large groups are concerned. These two examples, whereby technology is used as an aid to traditional teaching practice appear to be becoming somewhat mainstream. The innovative use of AI in the form of a teaching assistant to answer student questions at Georgia Tech is an extreme example of the helpfulness of technology, but also a stark reminder of the precarity of academic employment.

However, the delivery of online programmes has remained at the periphery of higher education options, with the market dominated by the Open University in the UK. However, traditional Higher Education Institutes are recognising the consumer interest in distance learning programmes, as evidenced by the increasing number of programmes, which currently remain relatively unchallenged by the rise of Massive Open Online Courses pioneered by Harvard and MIT’s edX which offer short courses, often free of charge, to learners worldwide. Yet, these technology-dependant courses raise a number of interesting challenges for the ways in which content is delivered and for the conceptualisation of the student experience. Potentially, they may in the long-term challenge the established teaching conventions in higher education. They also present challenges for HE professionals, who must acquire the new skills required to adapt to technological developments. On-going developments in digital learning, including artificial intelligence, may reflect the development of new approaches to teaching that enhance learning. Alternatively, they may just reflect a new form of monitoring and regulation and higher education responds to a new neo-liberal agenda. In addition, the continuing internationalization of higher education presents new opportunities to explore different ways of teaching in different cultural contexts, with technology providing a key mechanism through which universities strive to enhance synergies.

In this session we welcome contributions related to, but not limited to, the following topics:

  • Utilising new technologies in the classroom
  • Pedagogical implications of online learning/delivery
  • Impacts of new technologies on student engagement and learning
  • Skill implications for HE professionals
  • Different approaches to applying technology to learning.
  • Massive Open Online Courses and the HE business model
  • How to harness technology to improve the student experience
  • Technology, neo-liberalism and higher education

Please email paper abstracts to: E.C.Gardner@bham.ac.uk. Deadline: 12th Feb 2019.


Pedagogic partnerships in higher education: encountering emotion and enhancing wellbeing

Harry West (UWE Bristol), Jennifer Hill (UWE Bristol), Ruth L. Healey (University of Chester) and Chantal Déry (Université du Québec en Outaouais) harry.west@uwe.ac.uk Jennifer.hill@uwe.ac.uk r.healey@chester.ac.uk chantal.dery@uqo.ca

In the context of increasing wellbeing challenges in higher education, partnership working involving faculty, students and other stakeholders, within and beyond the curriculum at the course, programme and institutional level, has the potential to help students and staff work positively with their emotions and to promote resilient academic behaviours and positive wellbeing. In so doing, there are challenges for both students and faculty as they consciously encounter emotion within the affective domain. Partnership spaces of learning can be considered as borderland spaces (Hill et al., 2016, 2018); unfamiliar territories that effectively displace those who enter them, and whose novelty and uncertainty thereby challenge students and faculty, engaging a range of emotions. But persisting in these spaces can be transformative for all concerned, irreversibly changing knowledge, emotions, attitudes and behaviour and permitting new and previously inaccessible ways of thinking and practising (Meyer and Land, 2006).

While a large number of studies have explored the nature, benefits and challenges of pedagogic partnerships in higher education (Mercer-Mapstone et al., 2017), emotion and wellbeing are rarely foregrounded (Felten, 2017). In this session, we call for theoretical and empirical avenues of enquiry examining how pedagogic partnerships, in a variety of forms, are being/might be developed for positive benefit to enhance wellbeing in modern-day higher education communities. We encourage submissions that will critically examine the potential opportunities and challenges of pedagogic partnership in encountering emotion and enhancing faculty and/or student self-efficacy, resilience and wellbeing.

Pedagogic approaches that may be examined include but are not restricted to: social pedagogies such as fieldwork, group work, inquiry-based learning, research-based learning and authentic assessment; hospitable and compassionate pedagogy; contemplative pedagogy; courageous pedagogy; and heutagogy. Thematic areas for reflection might include: student-led induction/transitions; community/work-based learning, co-pedagogy and the emotional labour of teaching (amongst/between academic staff, professional services staff and wider stakeholders); student-faculty and peer-to-peer assessment dialogue; student-faculty and peer-to-peer working in the field; academic personal tutoring; Peer Assisted Learning; student pedagogic consultancy; student-faculty and peer-to-peer co-research.

Please email paper abstracts to harry.west@uwe.ac.uk. Deadline: 12th Feb 2019.

Felten, P. (2017) Emotion and partnerships. International Journal for Students as Partners, 1, 1-5.

Hill, J., Thomas, G., Diaz, A. & Simm, D. (2016) Borderland spaces for learning partnership: opportunities, benefits and challenges. Journal of Geography in Higher Education, 40, 375-393.

Hill, J., Walkington, H. & Kneale, P. (2018) Borderland spaces: moving towards self-authorship. In T. Bilham, C. Hamshire, M. Hartog and M. Doolan (eds) Reframing Space for Learning: Empowering Excellence and Innovation in University Teaching and Learning. London: UCL/IoE Press (in print).

Mercer-Mapstone, L., Dvorakova, S.L., Matthews, K.E., Abbot, S., Cheng, B., Felten, P., Knorr, K., Marquis, E., Shammas, R. & Swain, K. (2017) A systematic literature review of students as partners in higher education, International Journal for Students as Partners, 1(1).

Meyer, J.H.F. & Land, R. (eds.) (2006) Overcoming Barriers to Student Understanding: threshold concepts and troublesome knowledge. London: Routledge.


Transnational Student Migration: from the perspective of lifecourse and everyday geographies

Zhe Wang (University of Oxford) – zhe.wang@sant.ox.ac.uk

Transnational student migration has notably increased in recent years, which has also attracted much academic attentions. This  session  aims  to further  contribute  to  current  scholarship  of transnational student migration through bridging the perspectives of life course and everyday lived  experience. The  idea  of  life  course  regards  transnational  migration  as  related  and connected  practices  rather  than  separate  segments  of  movement,  while  the  dimension  of everyday life of migrants extends the discussion of transnational migration through focuses on embodiment, emotion, affect etc. (e.g. Ley 2004, Waters 2011, 2012). For transnational student migrants,  their  migration  not  only  implies  that  they  move  at  specific  time  from/to  specific places, but also influences/is influenced by their whole life course. Alongside their migration, they may encounter spatial transfers from familiar home spaces to stranger host society, change from teenagers to adults and other changes in terms of emotions, beliefs and various identities. Many existing studies on transnational student migration are framed within a unified logic of analysis  that  their  migration  processes  as  essential but  separate life  stages while  lacking attention to how migration influence the whole life course. In this sense, this session departs from existing literature which either focuses on the decision-making of transnational migration or  migration experience  confined  within  a  specific  time  and/or  place,  but  suggests  an understanding  of  students’  transnational  migration  as  embodied  (im)mobilities,  ongoing development  of  identity  and  meaningful  practices  enacted  in  everyday  lifeand  whole  life course.

We invite papers related to transnational student migrations focusing on the following themes:

  • Everyday life and transnational student migration
  • Identity and transnational student migration
  • Gender and transnational student migration
  • Social and cultural background and transnational student migration
  • Emotional geographies of transnational student migrations
  • Geographies of hope/trouble in the processes of students’ transnational migration
  • New methodologies to study transnational student migration

Please email paper abstracts to zhe.wang@sant.ox.ac.uk. Deadline: 12th Feb 2019.